Australia reached fever pitch ahead of its national team’s first appearance in a Women’s World Cup semi-final match, as entertainment outlets finalized plans for the soccer game and fans across the country reined in other schedules to focus on one of the biggest sporting events in years.
(Bloomberg) — Australia reached fever pitch ahead of its national team’s first appearance in a Women’s World Cup semi-final match, as entertainment outlets finalized plans for the soccer game and fans across the country reined in other schedules to focus on one of the biggest sporting events in years.
Some schools scrapped normal uniform policies on Wednesday, inviting kids to deck themselves in the “green and gold” colors of the national women’s team, the Matildas. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has floated the prospect of a public holiday in the event they become world champions.
Australia plays England at 8 p.m. local time at Sydney’s Stadium Australia, where a sell-out crowd is expected. Packed fan zones in cities around the country will have giant screens showing the match, and thousands of pubs will broadcast it, too. At stake is a place in the final against Spain at the same venue on Sunday.
Extra trains and buses will help fans get to the stadium and live sites. At University of Technology Sydney, some late-night classes have been shortened to finish in time for kickoff.
At the Enmore Theatre in inner Sydney, scheduling arrangements for the evening performance of “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” have been adjusted to have the match broadcast during intermission in both the theater and its foyers. Following the end of the second act, they’ll remain open to allow patrons to watch the remainder of the game.
Excitement has built for Australia’s debut semi-final appearance after they knocked out France on Saturday, in what was the highest-rated domestic TV sports event of the past decade. More than 2 billion people around the world were predicted to watch the tournament, Euromonitor International forecast, up from 1.1 billion viewers at the last cup in 2019.
The Matildas are just the second team — after the US — to have made it through to the semi-finals of the women’s competition as hosts. England, led by the only female coach left in the tournament, secured its place in the semi-finals for the third consecutive Women’s World Cup.
Near Broken Hill, some 1,100 kilometers (683 miles) west of Sydney in the outback, a big-screen site will host 5,000 people ahead of a music and arts event, the Mundi Mundi Bash.
“We have a huge screen as part of our stage set up and will light the crowd green and gold to show our support for the Matildas,” said festival creator and Outback Music Festival managing director Greg Donovan. “It’s going to be epic.”
Corporate Australia is also getting a kicker from the competition, which has been co-hosted with New Zealand over the past month. Online job ads company Seek Ltd. said on its Tuesday earnings call that July figures showed a boost across the hospitality sector, likely due to the World Cup and the abnormal demand for staff.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s biggest lender, has a four-year deal to back the national team and has reiterated its commitment to help the national soccer federation hit its gender parity participation ambitions by 2027.
News Corp. Australia said World Cup interest ramped up on its news.com.au website during the competition, with traffic for Australia’s quarter-final match soaring 90% compared with its first match against Ireland, Mediaweek reported.
For the national broadcaster and owner of the World Cup’s free-to-air rights, Seven West Media Ltd., the competition has even driven scheduling.
“The audience has been absolutely unbelievable,” Seven West Chief Executive Officer James Warburton said on the firm’s earnings call Wednesday. “We’ve loved telling the narrative of this wonderful team — and ‘go’ the Matildas tonight, and hopefully all the way on Sunday.”
–With assistance from Michael Heath, Georgina McKay, Amy Bainbridge, Peter Vercoe and Ainslie Chandler.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.